California was the first state in the nation to enact legislation in response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and has opted to expand Medicaid coverage while establishing its own marketplace, known as Covered California.
Within Covered California, the ACA requires the vertical integration of public and private health insurance options, meaning applicants must be screened for all health insurance programs they may be eligible for – a process that promises higher participation rates and better health outcomes for Californians.
However, the ACA does not require the horizontal integration – or “interoperability” – of marketplaces with public benefits programs such as CalFresh (SNAP in California) and CalWORKs (TANF in California). Unfortunately, California lags far behind other states in the take up rate of some public benefit programs to the detriment of low-income individuals, families, and communities.
As this report suggests, California can take advantage of ACA implementation as a means toward increasing access to health coverage and vital benefits while also fostering work support programs and improving the statewide economy.